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1408 Ebook

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Please be aware that the delivery time frame may vary according to the area of delivery - the approximate delivery time is usually between 1-2 business days. For enquiries regarding the delivery of your order, contact Star Track Customer Service on 13 23 45 - and quote the above consignment number. Desert fruit for sure. Eat one piece of that and you'd shit until it hurt. The red eye went on. Not musty or foul-smelling, Olin said the place gets aired every time it gets turned, but the turns are quick and Hey, look at this.

On the front was the Hotel Dolphin. In front of the hotel stood a smiling doorman in a very old-fashioned uniform, the kind with shoulder-boards, gold frogging, and a cap that looked as if it belonged in a gay bar, perched on the head of a motorcycle ramrod wearing nothing else but a few silver body-rings.

Going back and forth on Fifth Avenue in front of the hotel were cars from another era-Packards and Hudsons, Studebakers and finny Chrysler New Yorkers. Now it's time for a little fresh air. There is a pause followed by vague sounds and a couple of effortful grunts. After these come a second pause and then a squeaking sound. This is a little off-mike, but the follow-up is closer. I can hear the traffic on Fifth Avenue, and all the beeping horns have a comforting quality.

Someone is playing a saxophone, perhaps in front of the Plaza, which is across the street and two blocks down. It reminds me of my brother. It seemed to accuse him. His brother was dead, another fallen soldier in the tobacco wars. Then he relaxed. What of it? These were the spook wars, where Michael Enslin had always come off the winner.

As for Donald Enslin There is more on the tape-a little more-but that is the final statement of any coherence Mike turned on his heels and looked at the pictures. Still hanging perfectly straight, good little pictures that they were. That still life, though-what an ugly fucking thing that was!

Then he turned it off again and walked across the room to the door leading into the bedroom. He paused by the evening-dressed lady and reached into the darkness, feeling for the light switch. He had just one moment to register it feels like skin like old dead skin something wrong with the wallpaper under his sliding palm, and then his fingers found the switch.

The bedroom was flooded with yellow light from another of those ceiling figures buried in hanging glass baubles. The bed was a double hiding under a yellow-orange coverlet.

He stepped in, fascinated by the fuming desert of the coverlet, by the tumorous bulges of the pillows beneath it. Sleep there? Not at all, sir! It would be like sleeping inside that goddam still life, sleeping in that horrible hot Paul Bowles room you couldn't quite see, a room for lunatic expatriate Englishmen who were blind from syphilis caught while fucking their mothers, the film version starring either Laurence Harvey or Jeremy Irons, one of those actors you just naturally associated with unnatural acts- Mike pushed RECORD, the little red eye came on, he said "Orpheus on the Orpheum Circuit!

He approached the bed. The coverlet gleamed yellow-orange. The wallpaper, perhaps cream-colored by daylight, had picked up the yellow-orange glow of the coverlet. There was a little night-table to either side of the bed. One was a telephone-black and large and equipped with a dial. The finger-holes in the dial looked like surprised white eyes. On the other tale was a dish with a plum on it.

That's a plastic plum. On the bed itself was a doorknob menu. Mike sidled up one side of the bed, being quite careful to touch neither the bed nor the wall, and picked the menu up. He tried not to touch the coverlet, either, but the tips of his fingers brushed it and he moaned. It was soft and terrible in some wrong way. Nevertheless, he picked the menu up. It was in French, and although it had been years since he had taken the language, one of the breakfast items appeared to be birds roasted in shit.

That at least sounds like something the French might eat, he thought, and uttered a wild, distracted laugh. He closed his eyes and opened them.

The menu was in Russian. The menu was in Italian.

Closed his eyes, opened them. There was no menu. There was a picture of a screaming little woodcut boy looking back over his shoulder at the woodcut wolf which had swallowed his left leg up to the knee. The wolf's ears were laid back and he looked like a terrier with its favorite toy. I don't see that, Mike thought, and of course he didn't. Without closing his eyes he saw neat lines of English, each line listing a different breakfast temptation.

Eggs, waffles, fresh berries; no birds roasted in shit. Still- He turned around and very slowly edged himself out of the little space between the wall and the bed, a space that now felt as narrow as a grave. His heart was beating so hard that he could feel it in his neck and wrists as well as in his chest. His eyes were throbbing in their sockets. Olin had said something about poison gas, and that was what Mike felt like: someone who has been gassed or forced to smoke strong hashish laced with insect poison.

Olin had done this, of course, probably with the active laughing connivance of the security people. Pumped his special poison gas up through the vents.

Just because he could see no vents didn't mean the vents weren't there. Mike looked around the bedroom with wide, frightened eyes. There was no plum on the endtable to the left of the bed. No plate, either. The table was bare. He turned, started for the door leading back to the sitting room, and stopped.

There was a picture on the wall. He couldn't be absolutely sure-in his present state he couldn't be absolutely sure of his own name-but he was fairly sure that there had been no picture there when he first came in. It was a still life. A single plum sat on a tin plate in the middle of an old plank table.

The light falling across the plum and the plate was a feverish yellow-orange.

Everything's Eventual

Tango-light, he thought. The kind of light that makes the dead get up out of their graves and tango. The kind of light-- "I have to get out of here," he whispered, and blundered back into the sitting room. He became aware that his shoes had begun to make odd smooching sounds, as if the floor beneath them were growing soft.

The pictures on the living room wall were crooked again, and there were other changes, as well. The lady on the stairs had pulled down the top of her gown, baring her breasts. She held one in each hand. A drop of blood hung from each nipple.

She was staring directly into Mike's eyes and grinning ferociously. Her teeth were filed to cannibal points. At the rail of the sailing ship, the tars had been replaced by a line of pallid men and women. The man on the far left, nearest the ship's bow, wore a brown wool suit and held a derby hat in one hand. His hair was slicked to his brow and parted in the middle.

His face was shocked and vacant. Mike knew his name: Kevin O'Malley, this room's first occupant, a sewing machine salesman who had jumped from this room in October of To O'Malley's left were the others who had died here, all with that same vacant, shocked expression.

It made them look related, all members of the same inbred and cataclysmically retarded family. In the picture where the fruit had been, there was now a severed human head. Yellow-orange light swam off the sunken cheeks, the sagging lips, the upturned, glazing eyes, the cigarette parked behind the right ear. Mike blundered toward the door, his feet smooching and now actually seeming to stick a little at each step. The door wouldn't open, of course.

The chain hung unengaged, the thumbbolt stood straight up like clock hands pointing to six o'clock, but the door wouldn't open. Breathing rapidly, Mike turned from it and waded-that was what it felt like-across the room to the writing desk.

He could see the curtains beside the window he had cracked open waving desultorily, but he could feel no fresh air against his face. It was as though the room were swallowing it. He could still hear horns on Fifth, but they were now so very distant. Did he still hear the saxophone?

If so, the room had stolen its sweetness and melody and left only an atonal reedy drone, like the wind blowing across a hole in a dead man's neck or a pop bottle filled with severed fingers or- Stop it, he tried to say, but he could no longer speak.

His heart was hammering at a terrible pace; if it went much faster, it would explode. His minicorder, faithful companion of many "case expeditions," was no longer in his hand. He had left it somewhere. In the bedroom? If it was in the bedroom, it was probably gone by now, swallowed by the room; when it was digested, it would be excreted into one of the pictures.

Gasping for breath like a runner nearing the end of a long race, Mike put a hand to his chest, as if to soothe his heart. The feel of it, so solid and known, steadied him a little-brought him back a little. He became aware that he was humming He was aware that his stomach was now so nauseated that it seemed to be swinging in its own greasy hammock.

He could feel the air crowding against his ears in soft, coagulating clots, and it made him think of how fudge was when it reached the soft-ball stage. But he was back a little, enough to be positive of one thing: he had to call for help while there was still time.

The thought of Olin smirking in his deferential New York hotel manager way and saying I told you so didn't bother him, and the idea that Olin had somehow induced these strange perceptions and horrible fear by chemical means had entirely left his mind. It was the room. It was the goddamned room. He meant to jab out a hand to the old-fashioned telephone-the twin of the one in the bedroom-and snatch it up.

Instead he watched his arm descend to the table in a kind of delirious slow motion, so like the arm of a diver he almost expected to see bubbles rising from it.

He closed his fingers around the handset and picked it up. His other hand dove, as deliberate as the first, and dialed 0.

As he put the handset of the phone against his ear, he heard a series of clicks as the dial spun back to its original position. It sounded like the wheel on Wheel of Fortune, do you want to spin or do you want to solve the puzzle? Remember that if you try to solve the puzzle and fail, you will be put out into the snow beside the Connecticut Turnpike and the wolves will eat you. There was no ring in his ear. Instead, a harsh voice simply began speaking. This is nine! This is ten!

We have killed your friends! Every friend is now dead! This is six! It was not a machine-generated voice, but it wasn't a human voice, either. It was the voice of the room. The presence pouring out of the walls and the floor, the presence speaking to him from the telephone, had nothing in common with any haunting or paranormal event he had ever read about. There was something alien here.

No, not here yet It's hungry, and you're dinner. The phone fell from his relaxing fingers and he turned around. It swung at the end of its cord the way his stomach was swinging back and forth inside him, and he could still hear that voice rasping out of the black: "Eighteen! This is now eighteen! Take cover when the siren sounds! This is four! Before him, the room had begun to melt.

It was sagging out of its right angles and straight lines, not into curves but into strange Moorish arcs that hurt his eyes.

14 Dark Tales

The glass chandelier in the center of the ceiling began to sag like a thick glob of spit. The pictures began to bend, turning into shapes like the windshields of old cars.

From behind the glass of the picture by the door leading into the bedroom, the twenties woman with the bleeding nipples and grinning cannibal-teeth whirled around and ran back up the stairs, going with the jerky delirious high knee-pistoning of a vamp in a silent movie. The telephone continued to grind and spit, the voice coming from it now the voice of an electric hair-clipper that has learned how to talk: "Five!

This is five! Ignore the siren! Even if you leave this room, you can never leave this room! This is eight! The light began to grow bright and hot, filling the room with that yellow-orange glow. Now he could see rips in the wallpaper, black pores that quickly grew to become mouths.

The floor sank into a concave arc and now he could hear it coming, the dweller in the room behind the room, the thing in the walls, the owner of the buzzing voice. Funny old doorman, funny old cars with their big chrome grilles Without thinking about it-he no longer could think-Mike Enslin tore out a single match, allowing the cigarette to drop out of his mouth at the same time.

He struck the match and immediately touched it to the others in the book. There was a ffffhut! And again, without so much as a single thought, Mike held the flaring bouquet of fire against the front of his shirt. It was a cheap thing made in Korea or Cambodia or Borneo, old now; it caught fire at once. Before the flames could blaze up in front of his eyes, rendering the room once more unstable, Mike saw it clearly, like a man who has awakened from a nightmare only to find the nightmare all around him.

His head was clear-the strong whiff of sulfur and the sudden rising heat from his shirt had done that much-but the room maintained its insanely Moorish aspect. Moorish was wrong, not even very close, but it was the only word that seemed even to reach toward what had happened here He was in a melting, rotting cave full of swoops and mad tilts.

The door to the bedroom had become the door to some sarcophagal inner chamber.

And to his left, where the picture of the fruit had been, the wall was bulging outward toward him, splitting open in those long cracks that gaped like mouths, opening on a world from which something was now approaching. Mike Enslin could hear its slobbering, avid breath, and smell something alive and dangerous. It smelled a little like the lion-house in the- The flames scorched the undershelf of his chin, banishing thought.

The heat rising from his blazing shirt put that waver back into the world, and as he began to smell the crispy aroma of his chest-hair starting to fry, Mike again bolted across the sagging rug to the hall door. An insectile buzzing sound had begun to sweat out of the walls.

The yellow-orange light was steadily brightening, as if a hand were turning up an invisible rheostat. But this time when he reached the door and turned the knob, the door opened. It was as if the thing behind the bulging wall had no use for a burning man; did not, perhaps, relish cooked meat.

III A popular song from the fifties suggests that love makes the world go 'round, but coincidence would probably be a better bet. Rufus Dearborn, who was staying that night in room , up near the elevators, was a salesman for the Singer Sewing Machine Company, in town from Texas to talk about moving up to an executive position.

And so it happened that, ninety or so years after room 's first occupant jumped to his death, another sewing machine salesman saved the life of the man who had come to write about the purportedly haunted room. Or perhaps that is an exaggeration; Mike Enslin might have lived even if no one-especially a fellow on his way back from a visit to the ice machine-had been in the hallway at that moment.

Having your shirt catch fire is no joke, though, and he certainly would have been burned much more severely and extensively if not for Dearborn, who thought fast and moved even faster.

Not that Dearborn ever remembered exactly what happened. He constructed a coherent enough story for the newspapers and TV cameras he liked the idea of being a hero very much, and it certainly did no harm to his executive aspirations , and he clearly remembered seeing the man on fire lunge out into the hall, but after that everything was a blur.

Thinking about it was like trying to reconstruct the things you had done during the vilest, deepest drunk of your life. One thing he was sure of but didn't tell any of the reporters, because it made no sense: the burning man's scream seemed to grow in volume, as if he were a stereo that was being turned up. He was right there in front of Dearborn, and the pitch of the scream never changed, but the volume most certainly did.

It was as if the man were some incredibly loud object that was just arriving here. Dearborn ran down the hall with the full ice-bucket in his hand.

The burning man-"It was just his shirt on fire, I saw that right away," he told the reporters-struck the door opposite the room he had come out of, rebounded, staggered, and fell to his knees. That was when Dearborn reached him.

He put his foot on the burning shoulder of the screaming man's shirt and pushed him over onto the hall carpet.

Then he dumped the contents of the ice-bucket onto him. These things were blurred in his memory, but accessible. He was aware that the burning shirt seemed to be casting far too much light-a sweltering yellow-orange light that made him think of a trip he and his brother had made to Australia two years before.

They had rented an all-wheel drive and had taken off across the Great Australian Desert the few natives called it the Great Australian Bugger-All, the Dearborn brothers discovered , a hell of a trip, great, but spooky. Especially the big rock in the middle, Ayers Rock. They had reached it right around sunset and the light on its man faces was like this He dropped beside the burning man who was now only the smoldering man, the covered-with-ice-cubes man, and rolled him over to stifle the flames reaching around to the back of the shirt.

When he did, he saw the skin on the left side of the man's neck had gone a smoky, bubbly red, and the lobe of his ear on that side had melted a little, but otherwise Dearborn looked up, and it seemed-this was crazy, but it seemed the door to the room the man had come out of was filled with the burning light of an Australian sundown, the hot light of an empty place where things no man had ever seen might live.

It was terrible, that light and the low buzzing, like an electric clipper that was trying desperately to speak , but it was fascinating, too. He wanted to go into it. He wanted to see what was behind it. Perhaps Mike saved Dearborn's life, as well. He was certainly aware that Dearborn was getting up-as if Mike no longer held any interest for him-and that his face was filled with the blazing, pulsing light coming out of He remembered this better than Dearborn later did himself, but of course Rufe Dearborn had not been reduced to setting himself on fire in order to survive.

Mike grabbed the cuff of Dearborn's slacks. Rufus Dearborn, one of Singer Sewing Machine's finest, ran down to the elevators and pulled the fire alarm. The photo shows just his torso, but it's Mike, all right. One can tell by the white square on the left side of his chest. The flesh all around it is an angry red, actually blistered into second-degree burns in some places. The white square marks the left breast pocket of the shirt he was wearing that night, the lucky shirt with his minicorder in the pocket.

The minicorder itself melted around the corners, but it still works, and the tape inside it was fine. It's the things on it which are not fine. After listening to it three or four times, Mike's agent, Sam Farrell, tossed it into his wall-safe, refusing to acknowledge the gooseflesh all over his tanned, scrawny arms.

In that wall-safe the tape has stayed ever since. Farrell has no urge to take it out and play it again, not for himself, not for his curious friends, some of whom would cheerfully kill to hear it; New York publishing is a small community, and word gets around.

He doesn't like Mike's voice on the tape, he doesn't like the stuff that voice is saying My brother was eaten by wolves one winter on the Connecticut Turnpike While Mike was still in the hospital, a man named Olin-the manager of the goddamned hotel, if you please-came and asked Sam Farrell if he could listen to that tape. Farrell said no, he couldn't; what Olin could do was take himself on out of the agent's office at a rapid hike and thank God all the way back to the fleabag where he worked that Mike Enslin had decided not to sue either the hotel or Olin for negligence.

A man who spent most of his working days listening to tired travelers and petulant guests bitch about everything from their rooms to the magazine selection in the newsstand, he wasn't much perturbed by Farrell's rancor.

If anyone was negligent that night, Mr. Farrell, it was your client. He believed too much in nothing. Very unwise behavior.

Very unsafe behavior. I would guess he has changed somewhat in that regard. There is a book in what happened to Mike, Farrell knows it-not just a chapter, a forty-page case history, but an entire book. One that might outsell all three of the Ten Nights books combined. And of course he doesn't believe Mike's assertion that he has finished not only with ghost-tales but with all writing. Writers say that from time to time, that's all. The occasional prima donna outburst is part of what makes writers in the first place.

As for Mike Enslin himself, he got off lucky, all things considered. And he knows it. He could have been burned much more badly than he actually was; if not for Mr. Dearborn and his bucket of ice, he might have had twenty or even thirty different skin-graft procedures to suffer through instead of only four.

His neck is scarred on the left side in spite of the grafts, but the doctors at the Boston Burn Institute tell him the scares will fade on their own.

He also knows that the burns, painful as they were in the weeks and months after that night, were necessary.

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To a coroner it might have looked like a stroke or a heart attack, but the actual cause of death would have been much nastier. Sample purity can be improved using techniques like laser capture micro-dissection 12 , but these can be costly, involve handling that increases the potential for errors and are infeasible with some samples because of unintentional drying and other artefacts 13.

Single-cell sequencing may eventually resolve these issues, but is currently neither accurate enough for clinical usage nor technically feasible on routine clinical samples, and remains relatively slow and costly 14. As an alternative approach, in silico techniques for purifying cancer mRNA abundance profiles, called deconvolution algorithms, have been developed 11 , 15 — 18. Further, their negligible cost and speed makes them attractive for clinical studies.

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To be racist?

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